Did you know? Many believe pet allergies are caused by animal hair, but that is a myth. It is actually a protein found in pet skin (or dander), saliva, and urine that causes the allergy.
The Truth about Pet Allergies
Pets provide companionship and fun, but for some people a cat triggers sneezing, sniffles, and worse. Does an allergy to animals mean a life without Fluffy? Not necessarily.
Many believe pet allergies are triggered by animal hair, but they're actually caused by a protein found in pet skin (or dander), saliva, and urine. Some cats are labeled "hypoallergenic" but no cat is completely hypoallergenic, and the reaction they make is generally more individual than depending on the breed. The allergen collects on the cat and comes off in tiny flakes of skin that stay in the air or land on walls, carpets, and furniture.
Some cats produce less of the protein and others less dander. Many who suffer from allergies find they can tolerate one specific cat. The completely hairless Sphynx cats are often tolerated well, not because they don't produce allergens, but because any allergy-causing proteins tend to stay on the cat. Other breeds may have a finer coat and not groom themselves as much as other cats, thus spreading less allergens into the environment.
Things you can do to reduce suffering from pet allergies
- Make your bedroom a pet-free space, and wash bedding in hot water
- Bathe your pet frequently and have a non-allergic person perform grooming to reduce dander and hair shedding
- Use a HEPA air purifier/filter to trap dander
- Clean carpeting frequently, or opt for wood, tile or linoleum flooring
- Speak with your vet about a balanced diet for your pet, which can prevent dry skin and excess shedding
- Keep your pet off the furniture—cover upholstered chairs with towels and sheets and wash them on a regular basis
- Wash your hands after handling the pet
There’s no guarantee that someone who is truly allergic to pets will tolerate living with a dog or cat. If you’re thinking about getting a pet, but are concerned about allergies, consider trying one out on a trial basis. You can begin allergy treatment before getting a pet, including allergy shots.